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By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
The NCAA staff is using clarified guidelines to determine which Division II student-athletes will receive waivers of the rule that requires some student-athletes to sit out a year of competition after transferring.
Members of the Division II Committee for Legislative Relief, during its March 2013 meeting, made the changes in response to current waiver trends and a belief among the membership that waiver decisions were inconsistent.
Committee members also considered recently implemented updates to the Division I guidelines when making its changes. The Division I Legislative Council Subcommittee for Legislative Relief made similar changes to its guidelines in 2012.
The guideline changes are specific to waivers requested when a student-athlete wants to transfer to a school closer to home due to the illness or injury of an immediate family member (the student-athlete's mother, father, sibling, child or legal guardian). The committee directed the staff to consider relief when:
Additionally, the committee decided if a student-athlete’s family member is given a specific amount of time to live, that potentially outweighs all other guidelines.
Committee chair Wispeny Ellis, director of athletics compliance at Lynn, said Division II remains a unique and separate category from Divisions I and III, but shares the same commitment to student-athlete well-being as reflected in the revised Division I guidelines.
The changes to the guidelines are intended to be an updated standard for the staff to use when making waiver decisions. The transfer waiver guidelines have been in place since 1999 and are updated to reflect the evolving sentiments of the membership regarding waivers of transfer legislation. Division II guidelines for transfers due to injury or illness were last updated in January 2004.
“When transfer waivers are submitted by schools that reveal new trends for such cases, we will go to the membership for direction. The direction provided routinely comes in the form of guidelines for future cases,” said Kelly Brooks, NCAA director of academic and membership affairs.
“It is important to note that our staff also considers the timing of the immediate family member’s injury or illness diagnosis in relation to when the student-athlete makes the decision to transfer.”
The waivers do not affect whether a student-athlete can transfer to another school or receive financial aid at another school; the only issue is whether he or she can play immediately.
“We’re making it a more clear process so we’re not seeing so many appeals. We’re really trying to help student well-being, too, especially with the current economic climate,” Ellis said. “We want to give the staff a little bit more latitude to approve some of these cases.”
The guidelines are just part of the waiver review process. Schools seeking a waiver of the transfer legislation for student-athletes with ill or injured immediate family members must submit various materials, including written medical documentation from the professional who diagnosed the condition, a letter from the student-athlete explaining the need for relief and information indicating that external third parties were not involved in the transfer.